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Back To The Tracks (1960)

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Paul Chambers

The music that comprises Back to the Tracks was recorded in September 1960, months after the sessions for True Blue, but it sat on the shelves until Mosaic reissued it as part of their Complete Blue Note Recordings box, even though it was penciled in for release. Like Minor Move, Tina Brooks first session that stayed unreleased for over 20 years, Back to the Tracks is an excellent hard bop set, and it's hard to understand why it wasn't released at the time. Brooks leads a fantastic band featuring alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor through three originals and two standards. Each musician has opportunity to shine, but Brooks remains the center of attention. His style is remarkably fluid, capable of graceful, elegant turns on the ballads and clean, speedy improvisations on the up-tempo bop. Each of the five songs have breathtaking moments, confirming Brooks talents as a saxophonist, composer and leader. Listening to Back to the Tracks, it's impossible to figure out why the record wasn't released at the time, but it's a hard bop gem from the early '60s to cherish. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine